WEST JORDAN Legislator Bryan Holladay will trade in his seat on Capitol Hill for the highest seat in City Hall.
Holladay rolled over Mayor Donna Evans Tuesday, gaining 62 percent of the vote. The controversial Evans had 3,258 votes to Holladay's 5,394.
"I just wish Bryan well," Evans said after the election. "I hope he accomplishes everything that we would like to."
"We're glad it's over," Holladay said. "It's been a tough battle."
Evans, a first-term mayor, said her defeat was largely due to efforts to straighten out government and to tackle issues with staff members in handling the city's day-to-day business matters.
A Salt Lake District Attorney's Office investigation found that some staff members had mismanaged city finances. Several quit as a result of the investigation.
Bidding processes, budgeting and employee hours are a few areas now more closely scrutinized because of Evans' efforts. But the fight to get to that point, the negative perception of her leadership style and a campaign during which opponents attacked her record may have been too much for some people.
"I think it just wore the voters down," she said.
Holladay now inherits what Evans calls an "extraordinary" staff along with processes and procedures that "make sense."
Holladay said he has no plans to rehire anyone who left the city in the staff upheavals during the Evans administration.
With Holladay's election, the GOP legislator says he'll give up his legislative seat. He thinks a good replacement would be Steven Mascaro, who was defeated in the mayoral primary election.
But his replacement is not up to Holladay. Salt Lake County Republican Party leaders will meet and select one of two routes. They will either allow the central committee to send three names to Gov. Mike Leavitt, or delegates from Holladay's district will meet and send Leavitt one name as a replacement. Whoever is picked will serve out the year left on Holladay's term. Holladay apparently thought he would win the mayor's race and he has no pre-filed bills for the January general session.
Among Holladay's first priorities as mayor will be to solve traffic problems on 7000 South and to complete the construction of baseball diamonds on the city's west side, a project he says is now over the $6 million budget.
Holladay said Evans' stance on the Main City Park issue polarized her with voters. A majority backed a competing ordinance, sponsored by Holladay, that preserved roughly 90 acres of city-owned ground behind City Hall as park property.
"I've never been in a campaign where so many people were so decided," the four-term legislator said.
Comparing his new job to the old, Holladay expects a more "in your face" atmosphere as mayor, with more pressure from individuals on a regular basis.While some felt Evans led the city with a strong hand, Holladay said, "I'm going to try to let the city manager do his job."